The richness and diversity of Australia's wildlife is something that draws huge numbers of visitors to the continent. Australian wildlife - both flora and fauna - is quite unique because of its isolation from other major land masses, and is famous the world over. After all, who doesn't imagine cuddly koala bears and jumping kangaroos when thinking about Australia?
However, don't underestimate the sheer enormity of Australia. With over 450 species of mammals alone (and 2,000 species of spiders!), the number of wildlife attractions is vast and can be overwhelming if you're not prepared and organised. A good way to start is by deciding on the kind of wildlife experience you'd like to have - and you've got plenty of options.
Perhaps the most obvious places to go are the various National Parks, which tend to be areas of outstanding natural beauty, and are always popular with tourists. There's no shortage of these parks in Australia; Sturt National Park will give you a real Australian Outback experience (and more lizards than you ever knew existed!); the well-known Kakadu National Park, located in the Northern Territory, is where a third of all Australia's bird species live.
Also along these lines, it's well worth checking out some zoos, aquariums, nature reserves and sanctuaries. There are many different types; some of the best known include the National Aquarium and Australian Wildlife Sanctuary, the ever-popular Melbourne Zoo, and Taronga Zoo, which has a reputation as one of the most innovative and scenic zoos in the world (and where you can see a vast number of reptiles and endangered species, like the Ground Parrot).
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (southwest of Canberra) is perfect if you'd like a more "natural" wildlife experience, as it lets you see koalas, kangaroos and so on in a more authentic setting. If this sort of wildlife attraction appeals to you, Australia won't disappoint! The famous Blue Mountains (near Sydney) are home to a breathtaking array of colourful birds and native Australian creatures such as Swamp Wallabies, glow-worms, Eastern Grey Kangaroos and many more than can be listed here. And of course, it would be impossible to mention natural wildlife attractions without including Queensland's lush rainforests, simply swarming with unusual animals like tree-kangaroos, bandicoots, and pademelons.
Queensland, of course, is famous for another amazing wildlife attraction. The Great Barrier Reef's 200km of coral and tropical marine life attracts visitors to Australia all by itself; diving and snorkelling on the reef is generally thought of as one of the most memorable and spectacular wildlife experiences you could have anywhere in the world. Australia's warm waters mean that the sea life, too, is rich and varied - you can see humpback whales at Byron Bay, bottlenose dolphins at Port Stephens, or any number of seals and seabirds on various islands. Perhaps the most well-known islands, incidentally, are Kangaroo Island (with its large populations of sea lions, seals, koalas, and of course, kangaroos) and Phillip Island (just south of Melbourne) with its delightful Penguin Parade every night.
And for a really "natural" wildlife experience, why not consider a Wildlife Trail in somewhere like Adelaide or Tasmania, or a spot of bush walking? The options - like the Australian wildlife itself - are plentiful and varied. Don't visit Australia without planning to take in at least some of this country's spectacular and unique wildlife attractions.